Monday Topics: Best of Disney – Characters

W E E K     T H R E E

BEST OF DISNEY

Our friends over at Love Our Crazy Life have asked some of their blogging friends (like me) to participate in a Blogging Challenge. So for four weeks in April, on every Monday morning, I will be covering a different Disney-related topic. You can click the link above to find all of the other participants and their entries. Enjoy!

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Top Five Best Disney Characters

A good thing about Disney movies is that they are populated with great characters. You can cheer them on and delight in their life journeys. Some even touch your heart and stay with you for a lifetime! But who are the best of the best?

Please check out my Top Five List of the best Disney characters, and my reasons why:

Number Five – Mickey Mouse (The Little Guy)

Mickey Mouse

Photo Credit: Disney’s PhotoPass CD

The underdog has always been an endearing character in history. Charlie Chaplin certainly took his Tramp persona to unprecedented levels in the silent era of film, and in so doing spawned a long line of imitators–of which Mickey Mouse is certainly one of the best!

Mickey led the world out of the Depression. He taught our children how to be nice. And he showed us all that good guys don’t always finish last. He was the little guy who never gave up.

What really endears this mouse to my heart is that he never puts himself first. In a world where selfishness and Me-ism seems to be the norm, even celebrated, Mickey just keeps on showing that when you put others first, that’s when you gain real happiness!

Number Four – Uncle Remus (Song of the South)

Photo Credit: Copyright 1958 Walt Disney Productions

At a time in history when there were many justifiable reasons for hatred and resentment, one African-American man decided to show unprecedented love. No matter the skin color of the child in need, he was there with a story to make everything better again!

Song of the South is presently ‘banned’ from release due to alleged racism in its content, but I see a very different story within this important film. I see an older man of color respected and relied on by his former owners, a leader amongst his own people, and a person who shows just how big the human heart can be. Uncle Remus is a man everyone in this present world needs to meet and learn from!

James Bassett deserves better than to be robbed of his due for his portrayal of such a pivotal character in the Disney canon.

Number Three – Anna (Frozen)

Mention the Disney movie Frozen and everyone will immediately think of Elsa, the Ice Queen, who finally learns to ‘let it go’ and be her true self. Sounds good on the surface, but have they actually seen this movie? We have a person who damages her own Kingdom, runs away instead of staying and trying to fix things, abandons her duty and her sister, almost kills her sister (twice!), and basically adopts the attitude that it’s not her problem anyway. And this is a woman for little girls to look up to?

Anna, on the other hand, has no negative qualities. From childhood, she desperately tries to make a connection with her sister. Even though she is alone and rejected for years, her love never cools. When the Kingdom is in trouble, she steps up. She tries again and again to save her sister. And in the end, she is willing to die for someone who has done nothing to deserve such a sacrifice. This is a woman for everyone to look up to!

Just because a character has a hit song doesn’t mean they are one of the best Disney characters. Billions at the box office doesn’t do it either. Anna is one of the best Disney characters because she exhibits qualities that we all should strive to emulate!

Number Two – Baymax (Big Hero 6)

“Hello. I am Baymax, your personal healthcare companion.” Those who dedicate their lives to serve others, like nurses, are to be commended and respected. And although Baymax is a robot who was programmed to serve, we learn as his story unfolds, that there is more to him than computer code!

Two things emerge about Baymax during the film Big Hero 6. He will bend over backwards to do what he is asked by a ‘patient’ up to the point that it would harm them. Then he refuses to comply and explains why. Secondly, at the end of the film, we see that he is willing to lay down his own life, or terminate his program, to save others. Again, self-sacrifice is a big part of why Baymax is on this list!

“On a scale of one to ten, how would you rate this character?”

Number One – Mary Poppins (Mary Poppins)

Practically Perfect in Every Way. Using the word ‘practically’ means that there are a few things, or at least one, about this Nanny that could be better. I guess she is a bit full of herself, but in a prim and proper way! So why is this lady number one on my list of the best Disney characters?

First, she is selfless. She has given up a life of her own to serve and protect the children of the world. We find hints that she loves Bert and could pursue a relationship with him, but not without compromising her mission. So she goes on alone.

Secondly, her love of children is strong, but she can never have any of her own. In the final scenes of the movie, we see her shed a tear as she has to leave yet another set of children whom she has come to love as her own. Imagine going through that pain each and every time you accept a posting, knowing that you will have to leave!

Thirdly, even though she is a bit of a bossy flossy, she usually lets her hair down and joins in the fun.

Oh, and Supercalifrajalistic makes her expialidocious. And who else can you say that about?

Bonus Character – Herbie (The Love Bug)

Just look at that face! Adorable and plucky, this little VW Beetle probably has one of the most endearing personalities of any Disney character. Whether it’s bringing two people together, winning a race, foiling a plot, or falling in love himself, Herbie does it all with a ‘Meep Meep’ and a ‘Vroom Vroom’!

Perhaps no other character better personifies the no-quit spirit. He has been sabotaged, stolen, ripped in half, and heart-broken, but never has he been beaten! Sometimes it’s the smallest amongst us that have the biggest hearts.

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Be sure to check out all four of my posts in this series of Monday Topics:

Topic One – Disney Essentials

Topic Two – Disney Tutorial

Topic Three – Best Of Disney (You are here)

Topic Four – Looking Back at Disney

Controversy: How to Deal with Stereotypes in Old Movies

Oh, I just hate it when another studio one-ups my favorite studio, Disney ! But credit where credit is due. It goes to the Warner Brothers Studio for releasing a controversial film. And how did they manage such a tricky and potentially explosive feat and preserve a piece of cinematic history?

By using four title cards. My question: Why couldn’t Disney do this with Song of the South?

But first, the Warner Bros. movie: Irving Berlin’s This Is the Army (from 1943)

And yes, that’s a very young Lt. Ronald Reagan, actually in the army during production

Reagan again on the left with George Murphy on the right, playing his father

This film was called “buoyant, captivating, as American as hot dogs or the Bill of Rights” by Theodore Strauss of The New York Times. He left out racist and highly offensive. Or maybe he missed this part of the picture:

A Minstrel from a number with white actors in blackface

But with Hollywood, one is never enough, so why not fill the entire stage with highly offensive stereotypes:

Yes, that’s an enormous banjo in the background

If five Minstrels in the background weren’t enough, how about twelve in the foreground dancing and singing ‘Mammy’ with another twelve guys dressed in blackfaced-drag with an additional six banjo-playing Minstrels, three to a side? If only they could have worked in a plate of fried chicken and collard greens somehow.

There were actual African-American singers/dancers in this picture, but they were used in a typically exaggerated way for comic relief. However, a Fun Fact: The Army was still segregated at this time (WWII) and so the production of this film, with a predominantly all-army cast, was the only integrated deployment of men during the war.

So, again, how did Warner Bros. manage to get this film released in 2014 on DVD? Answer:

T I T L E     C A R D S

 

So it made a lot of money for charity. But still unacceptable.

Open acknowledgment of the mistaken views held at the time.

Point: Does banning movies with this stuff in them mean the stuff never happened?

Blackface Minstrelsy has a long history and is not practiced today, even in jest. But it is a large part of American history and won’t go away simply by burying movies that contain sequences depicting it.

With that in mind, couldn’t Disney place similar Title Cards at the beginning of a DVD release of Song of the South and let the scenes depicting the attitudes of the freed slaves and their interaction with former masters speak for themselves, also speak to the history of the period, and allow such scenes to “remind all how far we have come as a nation”, or nations?

I’ll leave this thought here and end this post on a lighter note. Did you know that The Skipper’s dad was in this movie too? Yup, Alan Hale Sr. played a key role in many movies long before his son, Alan Hale Jr., became Gilligan’s buddy:

A l a n    H a l e   S r.

Disney Music Monday

#DisneyMusicMonday – Zip A Dee Doo Dah

Disney Music Monday

Splash Mountain is the ride based on the movie The Song of the South.

Hello everyone, and welcome to #DisneyMusicMonday!  This week we are taking a look at one of the most popular songs in Disney — Zip A Dee Doo Dah!  Are you having a Zip A Dee Doo Dah day?  If not, maybe our post will help you out!

I’m joined by my friend Tim from Dad for Disney! Do you have a blog? Do you look forward to your Disney Music as much as I do? If so, how about writing a post and adding it to our linkup? The only criteria that matters is that it has to be about Disney Music.  It is my hope that our posts help you get back into the workweek full steam ahead, and that they turn what may be a chaotic Monday into something a little more manageable.

As I mentioned, today we are taking a look at Zip A Dee Doo Dah — the song that got it’s start in the 1946 film Song of the South, starring James Baskett.  This song won the Academy Award for Best Song, which just goes to show how popular it was from the very start!

To celebrate this, here is a YouTube clip of the song as seen in the movie.  I hope you enjoy it!

Now that I hopefully have put a smile on your face, go check out the rest of the entries, and thanks for stopping by!

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Splash Mountain

9 Days: Splash Mountain

Splash Mountain

Part of our team finishing up on Splash Mountain! It’s our choice for #Day9 in our #DisneyWorldCountdown!

Nine Days…Nine short days until we arrive at Walt Disney World!  we are now in the single digits, and I can’t wait to get there!  Today we are taking a look at Sophie’s all time favorite ride — Splash Mountain!  It’s our choice for #Day9 in our #DisneyWorldCountdown!

The picture you see above is from 2012 when we went with our friends Kerry & Neal and their kids and our friend Monica and her daughter.  In the picture are ML and Sophie, Monica and Cindy, and River and Kerry.  They had a fun trip as you can see from all the smiles!

Splash Mountain

As the sign says, you may get wet!

It’s not a coincidence that the word “splash” is in the title of the attraction!  As the sign above says, “You May Get Wet!” — in fact, you may want to count on it!

Splash Mountain is so much more than a 53′ drop at the end of the ride — the ride is the story of Br’er Rabbit and all his friends (and enemies) from the Disney movie Song of the South.  At 10 minutes, 41 seconds in duration, it’s not a short ride by any stretch, and the flume just winds through the mountain this way and that way as you see the story unfold before your eyes.

For the longest time Sophie didn’t want anything to do with it — but then one year she wanted to try it out, and when she did, she was hooked!  It instantly became her favorite ride, and one that we must ride at least once on our trip!

Is Splash Mountain your favorite, or do you skip it because of the drop?  Let me know in the comments, and thanks for stopping by!

Is Disney Becoming too Politically Correct?

It is interesting to me that by even asking that question, I may not be Politically Correct! To wonder if anyone has taken this non-offense initiative too far is to invite criticism. So when is being Politically Correct really too much?

The simple answer is: When it ignores history.

Take Song of the South for instance. This film is likely never to be re-released any time soon. It is apparently thought that it would spark more controversy over the racial problems of the past, and perhaps inflame some of the prejudices that still exist today. But I wonder if burying such a movie will make such controversy disappear? It’s unlikely.

    

The fact is that this film was made. It was released. It had an impact. And so I believe it should have a place in today’s society.

Take also the portrayal of smoking in Disney films. Now, I agree that we don’t need our children to see their favorite Disney character puffing away on a Virginia Slim. Can we imagine Ariel lighting up while relaxing on a rock after a hard day’s swim? Mickey pulling out a pipe on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and then breaking into a song all about the joys of smoking? Neither scenario is appealing!

Pinocchio enjoys (?) a cigar

But neither is denying that Disney characters have always been depicted as smokers if the story and situation called for it. Like Pinocchio when he was making an ass of himself:

 

Or Cruela de Ville with her iconic long cigarette holder. And we have to remember that Walt Disney himself was unapologetic about his own chain-smoking (although he did keep it off-camera.)

There was a series of TV commercials depicting Disney characters having bad experiences with smoking, like the aforementioned Pinocchio. The overlaying narration suggested that smoking was bad, so that is a good use of this old footage. But should this old footage be changed, perhaps edited out of the Classic films altogether? The answer appears to be ‘yes, as Disney is going through its Classic catalogue and removing such offending footage!

In conclusion, we might ask: Should the PC movement have the power to, not only ignore, but to change history? Maybe that should be the true controversy!